Part of being a successful brand is accepting that not everyone is going to like you, your product, or what you have to say on social media. That just comes with the territory. How do you handle haters and critics when navigating the world of social media? Do you address them? Ignore them? Try to solve the problem? Some companies have a blanket rule for dealing with those who criticize their brand, but I advocate a personalized “case by case” approach and a social media director with a natural instinct to discern how to handle sensitive situations. Here are some tips for handling haters and critics on your social media feed.
1. Ignore them.
If it’s just a random “you suck!”, or an insult with no direction or meaning, the best thing to do is to simply not address it. Don’t engage unless someone has a legitimate question or concern. In my experience, those who just want to berate you or your brand are not interested in a discussion or remedy. Engaging in a battle of wits, or worse, an argument with someone on social media — even if you are in the right — will cast a negative shadow on your brand. It’s difficult, but taking the high road is always best these situations. If you do choose to open a dialogue with these types of critics, tread carefully. Take the high road and disengage if the conversation is going nowhere.
If someone expresses a clear concern, question, or criticism, communicating empathy that one is upset is not the same as taking responsibility for causing the upset. A general comment such as, “We are very sorry you’re angry!” or “I’m sorry that happened” can help diffuse the situation and lessen the public critique.
3. Express a desire to help.
It’s always good to follow up an empathetic statement by communicating your desire to help the upset party feel better. Again, it doesn’t mean you are taking responsibility for the problem — it simply communicates willingness to leave a client/customer feeling good about your brand overall.
4. Ask for more information.
Asking for more information let’s people know you are listening. People want to feel heard. Asking specifics in order to remedy the situation can help calm someone down and make them feel you are taking their grievance seriously. It also communicates action on your part to ‘get to the bottom’ of things.
5. Take responsibility.
If you were wrong, say you were wrong. It’s unconventional advice, because brands/businesses are taught to never claim liability. That said, people tend to perceive the ownership of a wrongdoing as integrity. If there’s been a misstep made on the part of your brand or business, own up to it without drama, and move on.
6. Offer a solution.
If you can remedy the problem by replacing a product, offering a refund, or extending a future discount in order to express willingness to keep a client/customer — by all means do so. This provides invaluable word of mouth when a formerly upset customer or client is not satisfied.
Here’s an example of some of the above tips in execution using the 140 character format of twitter:
Upset Client: Ordered X from your company and it came BROKEN. So upset! That was supposed to be a gift! Thanks for nothing!
Company: Gosh, we are very sorry that happened. Can you DM us your order number? As we improve our packaging, let us help by sending you a free replacement!
More do’s and don’ts on handling critics, haters, or upset clients on social media:
DO own your content. Know what your brand is putting out there on their website, promotional materials, and ad campaigns and be prepared to stand behind it.
DON’T delete tweets. It’s best to not tweet in a state of upset or anger in the first place. Deleting tweets appears sneaky and waffling.
DO stay calm. If someone is trying to bait or rattle you, the best thing to do is stay calm and continue taking the high road.
DO disengage if the conversation is going nowhere. Either take it private, or direct the person to someone in a better position to serve them.
DON’T play the blame game. In customer service industries, the customer is still “always right” (even if they’re wrong). Blaming a client or shifting the responsibility to them is a huge faux pas.
DON’T take it personally. It isn’t about you, even if the critic seems to be attacking you.
DO move on quickly and engage with all your satisfied and happy clients on social media.
By using these tips, brands can maintain a positive public image on social media even when handling situations where clients are unhappy.